How Dutch NGO, GoClean is Creating Awareness around Cigarette Butt Litter

by | September 17, 2021


In the Netherlands, litter pickers often do not pick up cigarette butts, because there are too many to pick up, so it is too much work. 

Current laws are not sufficient to contribute to a reduction of cigarette filters in nature and on the streets.

The GoClean team set out with two line items on their agenda

  • Highlight the magnitude of cigarette butt litter in the Netherlands and the demand for legislation to get a reduction of cigarette buttsin litter In the meantime the tobacco industry should contribute in the cleaning costs of the butts.
  • Create awareness among smokers about the presence of “cellulose acetate” — the plastic material found in cigarette filters.



How can you educate a community about the reality of a commodity they are used to seeing everywhere?



On June 10th 2021, the GoClean team launched their annual cigarette butt challenge called the “Plastic PeukMeuk 2021. The 30-day challenge ended on the 10th of July, the data collected presented to the media and on social media which gained a lot of attention.

Here’s a summary of collection: 

Week 1: 60,000 butts by 122 volunteers

Week 2: 50,000 butts by 120 volunteers

Week 3: 50,000 butts by 110 volunteers

At the end of the challenge on the 10th of July, an amount of 225.000 butts were collected.

The challenge will contribute to an extensive citizen science study, in which 100 volunteers monitor carefully selected locations of 100m2 for 6 weeks in a row. They register the amount and degree of pollution of cigarette butts. A total of 200 locations are monitored, including wells. In this study Litterati is also used for the registration of the butts.

With the Litterati data which is analyzed in the Littercompass a report will be made. This report will provide input for the elaboration of the Single Use Plastic Directive. This in relation to the amount of money which the tobacco industry has to contribute annually in the Netherlands, to the costs of cleaning up the waste of their products.


The challenge has an ambitious goal of documenting 1M cigarette butts across the Netherlands by the end of the year, and they’ve already reached 270,000. And of putting the cigarette butt litter on the political agenda.

Last year we started with our first cigarette butt action, and that report was sent the report to the House of Representatives in the Netherlands, where it was received in a commission on circular economy, where cigarette butts are now an item on their agenda. Questions were asked by politicians in the committee to the State Secretary of Infrastructure and Water Management. It is the start of a journey on getting the politicians to realize the size of this huge problem.” says Jan Daamen, GoClean Volunteer & Litterati Community Member. 

Check out GoClean’s Cigarette Butt Study Report from 2020.

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